The United States Of America (self-titled)

The United States of America

The United States of America album is the product of Joseph Byrd, former FLUXUS member, artist and UCLA instructor who managed to combine experimental art and early synthesizer technology with psychedelic rock in creating this brilliant record. Employing percussion instruments, electric violin and acoustic strings, electric bass, various keyboards, homemade oscillators and ring modulators, and Dorothy Moskowitz’s confident soprano, this record shows surprising pop capability for an avant garde project.

United States of America is a pioneering record and worth your attention. Everybody wouldn’t be expected to sit through campy synth exercises like “I Wouldn’t Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar,” but many tracks hold up as strong experimental rock numbers. It’s a must listen for fans of ear candy, or those who love delving into the details. Tracks like the opener, “The American Metaphysical Circus,” feature layers of burbly oscillators, organ, calliope, and sound effects or field recordings. Other tunes tear it apart pretty hard for a guitar-less album like “Hard Coming Love” and some more restrained numbers make great careful listening material like the excellent “Cloud Song.” Dorothy’s vocals are very strong and lead with unexpectedly memorable lines.

The melodies and flow of the record, the sampled recurring themes, and the politically charged lyrics give this album a concept record feel. It was critically acclaimed on its release in 1968 but failed to sell, of course. The band broke up after their masterful debut though Byrd would continue to create experimental music and Moskowitz would eventually sing with Country Joe McDonald.

Sundazed reissued this album in 2008 as a hi-def vinyl LP that came packaged with a repro of the manilla envelope like the original. If this one has been hovering on your list for years, now is the time to pick it up!

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“Coming Down”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:D CD Reissue | 2004 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed | amazon]

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  • Wow, saw this record twice over the weekend for a few vaults of money! Nice to know that this has been reissued! Funny enough I was going to put this up on the blog. Well, it will have to wait now. Likin’ yer blog! Added you to the 115th Dream sidebar!


  • Brendan

    Thanks Doc. The inclusion is much appreciated since we’re often patients ourselves.

  • I kinda like the wooden wife song.

  • I agree with you, this an amazing record, criminally overlooked over the years. I’m a fan of garage rock, pop-psych, West Coast, folk rock and so on and I bought this CD a couple of years ago just based on its cover and where it was filed in the record shop. I didn`t know a thing about this people and so this was for me an even bigger (and better) surprise.

  • Wow – how did I miss this post? I’ve been looking for something by these guys for years and have never seen their stuff in any record store.

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